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DC and Warehouse Slotting Considerations for More Efficient Warehouse Operations

The modern omnichannel retail strategy relies on the collaboration and successful execution of millions of individual warehouse processes, but all these processes can quickly break down in light of poor warehouse slotting practices. In addition, warehouse slotting needs to be managed across the supply chain, including distribution centers, local warehouses and even storefronts being used as distribution centers or ship-to-store hubs. As explained by Chuck Intrieri via Cerasis, warehouse slotting is key to optimizing your warehouse management system (WMS), and your company should take these warehouse slotting considerations seriously.

Dynamic Versus Static Slotting

Dynamic slotting versus static slotting allows warehouse managers to re-slot warehouses as demands change. Since pick accuracy is directly linked to the speed and ease in picking, reports HCL Technologies, dynamic slotting is often seen as the “gold standard” of warehousing. In dynamic slotting, warehouse slots are organized on the basis of their impermanence. In other words, when demand changes, slots will change. While this may cause some minor reductions in speed as employees learn new picking locations, the basic organization remains the same. Therefore, the system retains static bin and slot labeling, but it rearranges products to reduce the time needed to pick orders.

Characteristics of Slots

The characteristics of slots can also make a difference in the efficiency of warehouse operations. Some slot sizes may only fit products of set dimensions, weight limits, and materials. Meanwhile, other items, like electronics, may require dust-free and static-free slotting and heavy items require placement closest to the ground. By knowing what can and cannot be placed safely and without damaging the product in different slots, you can improve efficiency in your warehouse.

Slotting Optimization Systems

Another key to getting the most from your warehouse lies in reslotting and optimizing it through an automated system. According to MWPVL, an efficient, effective system should consider slot and product characteristics, consumer base information, demand forecasts and real-time data, product similarity, cycle time and more in determining the best way to organize your warehouse. In addition, the location of your distribution centers, warehouses, and stores-as-distribution centers should be considered by the system.

For example, an area that rarely experiences cooler weather should not have excess inventory of cold-weather products.

Product Velocity and Seasonal Changes

Speaking of cold weather, it is important to consider seasonal changes in product demand and product velocity. Some products will always flow at a faster rate than others and vice versa. But, you need this information when reslotting. By driving down the costs and inefficiencies in picking, your warehouse can operate more effectively and efficiently, reports ICEPTS Technology Group, Inc.

Remember to Make Time for Slotting

Time is the final consideration in warehouse slotting. Slotting takes time, and it should not be a last-minute decision. This, among all slotting considerations, is the most important because hasty reslotting will lead to errors and increase risk in your company. But, creating a slotting strategy that evolves and changes with changing demands, pairing demand with other considerations, will simplify slotting practices. As a result, the amount of time spent on slotting decreases, letting your workers get back to picking orders, not arguing over what should go where.